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How do I pronounce "can't" with a British accent without it rhyming with "punt" or "paint"?

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I suspect you just don’t have quite enough phonemes. If you were from Lisboa, I would point out the difference in the quality of the stressed vowel between falamos in the present tense and falámos in the past tense. Even though you are Brazilian, you might know what I am talking about. Think of the Star Trek film, The Wrath of Khan: the vowel in Khan is different from the one in pun or one or cunt. That isn’t quite the same as the Lisboeta’s distinction, but it is still far enough apart to be phonemically distinct. –  tchrist Jul 15 '13 at 23:51
I understood the Portugal's portuguese example, and I agree that probably I don't have enough phonemes. In my head it pretty much the same thing "british can't" and "british "cunt". The Khan was a good example, I'll explore it. –  Ericson Willians Jul 16 '13 at 0:05
I understood the difference now. It is because in my Portuguese the bloody encounter of "a" with "n" creates a different sound in "a" (ã), like in the word for bread "pão" ['pα˜w]. This makes my brain imagine "can't" like "cunt" and not "cAn't (Like the german A). –  Ericson Willians Jul 16 '13 at 0:14
Also remember that the a in ‘can’t’ is long, whereas the ‘uh’ sound in ‘cunt’ is short. /a/ before nasals in Portuguese is closed to [ɐ], which sounds quite similar to the [ʌ] in ‘cunt’. It doesn’t sound similar to the [ɑː] in ‘can’t’ at all, though. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 16 '13 at 10:49
No homework. Question does not show any previous research effort. –  Kris Jul 18 '13 at 6:35

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

/kɑːnt/ (BrEng pronunciation)

k as in "k ite"

ɑː as in "c ar"

n as in n ose

t as in t ie

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Source? Does that by some chance make the question a GR? The rest of the answers make this an opinion question, OT. –  Kris Jul 18 '13 at 6:33

Say it like "Kant", as in the name of the philosopher, Immanuel Kant.

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The problem seem to be that the OP just Kahnt pronounce either. –  Kris Jul 18 '13 at 6:34
@Kris obligatory and awful –  Ladlestein Jul 22 '13 at 23:41

I believe the British pronounce it "cawn't"

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No, the ‘aw’ sound is not the sound found in ‘can’t’ in British English. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 16 '13 at 10:46
@Janus: Unless you're from a part of the U.S. (e.g. most of the West) that pronounces dawn and Don the same. Most of these regions pronounce them both with the same vowel the British use for "can't" –  Peter Shor Jul 16 '13 at 12:06
No, they pronounce them both with a vowel that is not found in (standard) British English at all. Even so, using American-based pseudo-phonetics to explain British English pronunciation to a Brazilian does not seem like the best option available. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 16 '13 at 12:23
@Janus: I believe the vowel varies (since it's a merger of several vowels, any one of them will work), and that often it's pronounced with the same vowel that the British use in can't. However, I totally agree that West-Coast American based pseudo-phonetics is a bad idea to explain pronunciation to anybody. –  Peter Shor Jul 16 '13 at 13:53

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